The 'new' and 'old' anti-Semitism blighting France

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Several rallies denouncing anti-Semitism in France were held on Tuesday evening in Paris, in reaction to a recent spate of anti-Semitic acts across the country, the latest of which was the desecration overnight Monday of tombstones in a Jewish cemetery near the eastern city of Strasbourg. Meanwhile, official figures show a 74 percent year-on year rise in anti-Semitic acts recorded by police in France in 2018. Mediapart asked Nonna Mayer, a specialist in anti-Semitism and emeritus research director with France’s national scientific research centre, the CNRS, for her insight into the growth of anti-Semitic acts recorded in the country, her analysis of the different motives behind the anti-Semitism, and her views on how best to respond to the problem.

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The number of reported crimes of anti-Semitism in France rose to 541 in 2018, compared to 311 in 2017, a year-on-year rise of 74%. The 2018 figures, which followed a two-year fall in reported incidents targeting Jews, included the stabbing murder in Paris of an 85-year-old widow, Mireille Knoll, and 80 assaults, some of them attempted murders, 358 threats of violence, and 102 incidents of attacks on properties, prompting interior minister Christophe Castaner to comment earlier this month that, “Anti-Semitism is spreading like poison”.